I know it’s old news at this point, but I am going to write a brief description of the Rolling Stone 1000th issue party, because there were a few points of interest. They were:
1. I saw Marilyn Manson, Moby & Andre 3000. Apparently Ethan Hawke (who, once upon a time met me and said I was “great”) was there, but I didn’t see him. Bummer.
2. Eddie Vedder & Lou Reed made separate cameos singing songs with the Strokes. By this point in the evening, I was sufficiently drunk and hungry, but I still got really, really excited to see Lou Reed (moreso than I was excited about Eddie Vedder, which makes me a horrible Seattle-ite, I suppose).
I took a video, which you can see/download by clicking on the picture above. I only caught the last 2 minutes of Lou & the Strokes doing “Walk On The Wild Side,” because I completely forgot that I had the ability to take video until the song was mostly over. For fun, however, you can download the original Lou Reed only version of “Walk On The Wild Side” (here), and you can download a live Strokes only cover of “Walk On The Wild Side” (here).
3. I met the man, the myth, the mystery — Jann Wenner, aka the founder/editor/publisher of Rolling Stone. (Seen above, standing nearest to the upright microphone, singing the Dr. Hook & The Medicine Man song about Rolling Stone.) One of the other interns ran up to meet him after the party, so I followed suit. I said hello, that I was an RS intern, and thanked him for a good time at the party. I probably should’ve used what a guest speaker in one of my journalism classes called my “elevtor pitch” better (called this because you may only have an elevator ride’s worth of time in which to pimp yourself out), but the large smile on his face and stack of Mardi Gras beads around his neck leads me to believe he probably wouldn’t have remembered me or what I said, no matter how good.
4. My favorite part of the night, however, was when I was standing outside afterwards. One of the other interns and I started talking to the singer of latest Australian indie sensation Wolfmother. He’s the guy in the middle in the picture above — only now he has a huge, curly afro. In my state of intoxication, I said “I love your hair,” to which he said, “thanks, I like yours, too.” I probably should’ve gotten his number!
5. The rest of my pictures can be seen starting here. I don’t have any pictures of myself at the party, because the other RS interns haven’t sent them to me, YET. (I’m looking at you, other RS interns!)
And now, the big finale of all of these internial posts. My “Final Thoughts” about my time as an intern at RS.
It’s interesting, the first things I noticed about the offices (size, lack of women) ended up being connected to the themes that reoccured in any sort of issue I had with the internship.
In my past internships with NARAS and Resonance and even the defunct Publishing Online, I was used to small offices. Very small. Think me and 2-3 other people, max. Needless to say, the jump to an entire floor of a 20-some story building in Manhattan was something of a change. I was surprised to see two women in the hallway outside the bathroom greeting each other, saying they hadn’t seen in each other in weeks, despite the fact that they work on the same floor.
The large size of the offices definitely contributed to the feeling that it was difficult to get to interact with many of the staff members much. There were two or three people we’d interact with almost every day, and everyone else we’d interact with much more sporadically, if at all. Aside from those two or three people I interacted with on a regular basis, I’d be surprised if any of the people there recognized my face or name in a month or two, which is as much my fault as that of the structure of the internship. I could’ve and should’ve been more forward, but then again, when you’re on a list of ten interns competing for the same kinds of chances with the same low ratio of contact with staffers and doing the same tasks in a period of three to four months, it’s difficult to find ways to stand out. One or two of the other interns did walk away with opportunities that may lead to job placement at some point down the line, and for that I commend them.
The lack of women in positons of power thing isn’t just a Rolling Stone issue so much as it’s an industry issue. I see it at other magazines I have connections to and that I read. In two years, I’ve written two papers about the fact that women in Journalism (not just print!) get paid less than men for doing the same jobs, and women still can’t break past the middle management level. There has been an increase in women who hold Managing Editor types of positions, but the number of women in positions higher than that hasn’t changed in 2-3 years, despite the fact that the number of women in the field and graduating from J-School is higher than ever. These kinds of statistics were just pushed in my face once again, because at Rolling Stone, the only woman with an office was the Director of Photography, which isn’t even an editorial positon, really, it’s an Art/Design position.
The one thing I really would’ve liked to see was more of the editorial department decision making process. I’m really interested in how Rolling Stone decides to cover the things that they do, and it would’ve been nice to just sit in on a meeting or two, considering that they have tons of them every day.
Now that we got the slighly negative things out of the way, there were absolutely positives. I was impressed by the fact that there seemed to be a higher amount of young staffers (read mid-20s) than I’ve noticed at other magazines. Young staffers are a key in keeping a magazine fresh, and it’s ridiculous how easily people seem to forget that.
The interns are basically thrown into the internship. On my first day, I was handed three sheets of paper loosely outlining the different tasks interns usually do, and given a tour of the office by one of the other interns. The minute I got back from my office tour, I had something to do. I was never particularly coddled at my other internships, either, which I always appreciated and thought was a good, if daunting approach. But something about being thrown in that way at Rolling Stone is as intimidating as it is exciting. It makes you feel like you’ve got a kind of power and responsibility even though you don’t have much of either, because you’re mostly just waiting for someone with power and responsibility to give you something to do.
We did a ridiculous amount of transcribing interviews, which was, for the most part, the only area in which I learned something I know for sure that I’ll use again, because it’s knowlege I can use outside of Rolling Stone. Though the RS staffers’ tricks of interviewing had lots of basics (every single one of them used the “if you don’t get the answer you want, ask the same question in a different way” trick over and over again), I noticed two interesting approaches. One staffer would start by asking the interviewee what they were doing at that exact moment in time, because the interviews were mostly done over phone. Kanye West, for example, was working on his closet. The interviewer would then ask a handful of related questions (new house? decorating?), then find a way to gradually ease into the actual interview. While this was kind of frustrating during the transcribing process (thanks for 20 minutes of quotes that don’t pertain to the focus of the article), it seemed to relax the interviewee a whole lot more, and made the interviews more like a conversation between two parties than a typical interview. Another staffer used a technique that I called “playing dumb” (or at least I hope it was “playing”), in which they would conduct the beginning of the interview as though they didn’t know anything about the topic, then introduce trickier questions between more seemingly obvious/”dumb” questions. This method frustrated the subjects a bit more, but probably because by the end of the interview, some of them were more or less pinned to the wall, so to speak.
Overall, I mostly just hoped that I could walk away from this with a few solid connections, and a good corporate balance to Resonance on my resume, both of which seem to have happened (though the power of the Stone (as I called it) on my resume won’t be tested until I start sending it out EVERYWHERE in July). So, it seems pretty plausible that I got what I wanted.